Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People, During the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia, in the Year 1793 (Philadelphia: William W. Woodward, 1794)
Refugees in Philadelphia
In 1793 Philadelphia was struck by the largest yellow-fever epidemic in the history of the country. It was widely believed that the refugees from Saint Domingue had brought the disease. Whites also accused the local black population of having profited from the calamity by looting the homes of the sick and extorting money from them. A pamphlet was largely circulated denouncing the black Philadelphians. A year later, Reverends Richard Allen and Absalom Jones published a refutation of these accusations. In 1798 Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Mifflin prohibited the settlement of blacks from the West Indies and requested the deportation of slaves who had recently immigrated from Saint Domingue. Legislators in New York, unlike those in Maryland or Philadelphia, did not expel Saint Domingans; instead a vibrant and active Haitian community was greatly involved in opposing slavery in the state and protested the removal of twenty slaves to the South in 1801.